QM Speculation

  • Thread starter thenewmans
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I don't know if plants are using quantum mechanics (which is a theory or a model of nature). That's a bit like saying that black holes are using general relativity to grow or to attract stuff...
:uhh:
Well its a fact that they utilise quantum mechanics for efficiency in the photosynthesis process. If they used a classical process instead then they would not be so efficient. I think what you mean is that there is probably no purpose behind it, and its just an evolutionary trait developed at some point by trial and error. You're probably right.

I dont think the analogy with black holes works. Plants could have evolved differently. Black holes are not biological (as far as we know) and they certainly do not evolve by taking on new characteristics.
 
  • #27
vanesch
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Well its a fact that they utilise quantum mechanics for efficiency in the photosynthesis process. If they used a classical process instead then they would not be so efficient. I think what you mean is that there is probably no purpose behind it, and its just an evolutionary trait developed at some point by trial and error. You're probably right.
My point was: you cannot "use quantum mechanics" in nature. You can use processes that are maybe more adequately described by quantum mechanics than by classical mechanics, but these are *models built by humans about nature*. In nature, there are no "classical" and "quantum mechanical" processes: there are just natural processes, and we have different ways of describing them. When you heat water, do you heat it with classical thermodynamics or do you heat it with statistical thermodynamics ? When salt dissolves in water, does it dissolve "quantum mechanically" or "classically" ?

Imagine that a plant would like to use classical photosynthesis. How would it do so ? What does it even mean ?
 
  • #28
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My point was: you cannot "use quantum mechanics" in nature. You can use processes that are maybe more adequately described by quantum mechanics than by classical mechanics, but these are *models built by humans about nature*. In nature, there are no "classical" and "quantum mechanical" processes: there are just natural processes, and we have different ways of describing them. When you heat water, do you heat it with classical thermodynamics or do you heat it with statistical thermodynamics ? When salt dissolves in water, does it dissolve "quantum mechanically" or "classically" ?

Imagine that a plant would like to use classical photosynthesis. How would it do so ? What does it even mean ?
The paper mentions; prior to this everyone thought the energy transfer process operated through classical mechanics. That was assumed because of some agitation process they had once identified as the mechanism.

However, I think its way too early to speculate about the distribution of quantum mechanical processes or functions in biology. But, there is a clear efficiency improvement (in material terms) for the plants to be using a quantum mechanism for energy transfer, as opposed to a classical mechanism. That improvement would give it an evolutionary advantage if there was such a thing as a type of plant that could not harness the quantum process for energy transfer.

And if this is such a common process and we should expect it to be pervasive throughout all biology then perhaps the idea that our brains are functioning through a quantum process is not so crazy. Why stop at photosynthesis? We are a couple billion years more advanced.

But whatever the case i think its facinating and needs way more attention.
 
  • #29
Fra
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personal interpretations on science and QM

"I adhere to some minor subjective self-organising information theoretic interpretation, where the basic drive is self-preservation, and interactions may appear as a result of negotiating inconsistencis due to the subjective views. This view goes back to the foundations and philosophy of inductive logic and probability theory."

Thats very interesting. Would love to hear more about the "self-preservation" aspect you mention. I also have been wondering whether there can be a correlation between Darwinism and quantum mechanics. I've been trying to build a model of Darwinism which incorporates biological observership as an evolutionary driver for "better" observers. By "better" i mean better sensory development in order to observe more and more detail and defintion in the universe. What did the universe look like when the first primitive microbe self-evolved? It must have looked/felt very different to that microbe.
Hello Coldcall, I'm glad that you connect to my associations. I do not yet have any clear answers to my own questions since I'm in the process of searching, but some comments...

(1) My view on this aims to be more than only an interpretation of QM, I see it more as a constructive abstraction of the scientific method and one idea I've had for a long time is that scientific process and natural processes have alot in common. For some time some people (ET Jaynes) argued that probability is the "logic of science", thus suggesting that science isn't about deductive reasoning (although this is what many matured theories look like when polished and formalized) but rather about inductive reasoning.

Ariel Caticha is one of those who has expressed in public his idea that the laws of physics at the deeper level might in fact share the structure of inductive reasoning. One of this set out goals is to derive general relativity from principles of inductive logic and reasoning. And that is not simply to associate information geometry and statistical manifolds with those of GR, it aims (I believe) to show that Einsteins Equation itself, follows from some kind of natural inductive logic.

Given that there are variations along these ideas, this is a main spirit I share.

So my ponderings do not only question particular theories, like QM. It questions the context in which they are born (science), and it may suggest new views to the scientific method.

(2) Not to dig too deep into what the observer is but the self-preservation I refer to is with regards to the "observer". But in my thinking, and observer is any system. It doesn't constrain itself to biologal systems. The generalisation is that the system is subject to a selective pressure to develop strategies of self-preservation. Why? A system that doesn't will simply self-desctruct, and such systems aren't stable and thus rarely observed. This is just a very simple way of trying to convey the spirit.

(3) Evolution to me, in this generalised sense have a common structure to that of biology, but goes much deeper. The suggestion of this is that also the nature of law are subject to evolution, but to explain this is more tricky. To try to give a short hint, the basic exploit is that the evolution of law and evolution of observers really go hand in hand. Perhaps one can say that law is the locally emergent optimal strategies, implemented by interacting observers. Zurek said something that I like (without me necessarily agrees with all of his quantum darwinism - I don't)...

"...what the observer knows is inseparable from what the observer is"
-- W.H Zurek, Probabilities from Entanglement, Born's Rule from Envariance
http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0405161

In this spirit, I'm working on a sort of representation formalism of information, which can have relations to other such structures. I think of it as microstructures. Such microstructures has general qualities but can also acquire internal structure as the complexity is scaled up. When doing so, actions that was previously highly unfavourable, become favourable. This is where I am at the moment, to try to figure out how this scaling generates the fundamental references, like space and time, and next also "fundamental" interactions. Here gravity takes a natural meaning in that it works in relation to complexity, and ideally it should explain why it fades when complexity is scaled down, and becomes more dominant as the complexity increases. But this is something I'm still trying to figure out.

Evolution and time evolution are treated on equal footing and just refers to different scales, the basic mechanism I picture is the same (self-preservation).

This is more philosophical and abstract than noting that the effiency of certain processes are higher when quantum strategies are used. That's just one thing one would expect to explain better. But there are more interesting suggestive connections.

/Fredrik
 
  • #30
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Hi Fra,

Thanks for the intriguing post!

"(1) My view on this aims to be more than only an interpretation of QM, I see it more as a constructive abstraction of the scientific method and one idea I've had for a long time is that scientific process and natural processes have alot in common...."

This is a very interesting concept. I agree we need an interpretation which is not just a practical type "treatment" of foundation QM, but more importantly, a way to guide future research. Yes i too feel there is a correlation between the scientific process and natural processes. But do you think its a naturalistic mimicking we engage in on a subliminal level or is there really a stronger law of "subjectivity" of which humans are only becoming aware?

"But in my thinking, and observer is any system. It doesn't constrain itself to biologal systems. The generalisation is that the system is subject to a selective pressure to develop strategies of self-preservation. Why? A system that doesn't will simply self-desctruct, and such systems aren't stable and thus rarely observed. This is just a very simple way of trying to convey the spirit."

Have you read any of Henry Stapp's papers or theories? I believe he also feels that in a sense everything is conscious. His papers are all here:
http://www-physics.lbl.gov/~stapp/stappfiles.html

"To try to give a short hint, the basic exploit is that the evolution of law and evolution of observers really go hand in hand. Perhaps one can say that law is the locally emergent optimal strategies, implemented by interacting observers. Zurek said something that I like (without me necessarily agrees with all of his quantum darwinism - I don't)...

"...what the observer knows is inseparable from what the observer is"
-- W.H Zurek, Probabilities from Entanglement, Born's Rule from Envariance
http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0405161"[/B][/I] [Broken]

I'll read that paper cheers :) Yes i like Zurek's ideas and whats interesting is that his work on "decoherence" which he admits is a practical type framework was sort of highjacked by "materialists" claiming it solved the "measurement problem". Intrestingly Zurek is more honest about this aspect of "quantum decoherecne" than many of those who now champion it as the essential interpretation. I was always skeptical of this claim re "decoherence" for a few reasons but considering he studied under Wheeler i thought it was wishful thinking by some to claim this was the big interpretive solution.

I've always been a big fan of Wheeler - a great man, un-afraid of challenging the consensus, and of course he went on to mentor some of the more modern physics thinkers such as Feynmann, Zurek and even Everett.

"........This is more philosophical and abstract than noting that the effiency of certain processes are higher when quantum strategies are used. That's just one thing one would expect to explain better. But there are more interesting suggestive connections."

It interesting because i do believe we are close to where consciousness will have to be considered part of any big solution correlating qm and the natural physical reality of the universe and life itself. Personally i think the key will be a new understanding of "subjectivity" as a an objective process. And abstacts and philosophy will become part of that new science.

The problem we face is a physics community which loathes the idea of subjectivity. Its understandable because scientists are trained to be objective about everything and i think it will be hard for many to traverse the new paradigm.
 
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  • #31
Fra
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I agree we need an interpretation which is not just a practical type "treatment" of foundation QM, but more importantly, a way to guide future research. Yes i too feel there is a correlation between the scientific process and natural processes. But do you think its a naturalistic mimicking we engage in on a subliminal level or is there really a stronger law of "subjectivity" of which humans are only becoming aware?
For example, since I am human, the human perspective is unavoidably relevant - I can not release myself from that. But apart from that, none of my suggested abstractions is by any means constrained to humans or biological systems. Except for the obvious, that the abstraction itself live in my brain. But that is a universal: every question is relative to the questioner.

As I see it humans are part of nature like other systems. But we are complex and have evolved an impressive level of sophistication.

But like you indicated in the other posts, how does the world look like to a very simple low-complexity system?

So I am somehow trying to ponder what questions any given observer CAN ask. And what view of the world it is likely to have. And how does the observer itself evolve during the question/response processes in a given environment?

In therms of physics this amounts to ask what possible interactions CAN a given system participate in? And how does the system evolve during the interaction process?

But all these questions, are fired from me, who is human. My probably utility of this is that I can try to predict my environment. It's like a game, where each player to find his optimum strategy must also guess the strategy of the other players. But since all other humans, while different, relativity speaking are fairly well synchronized, it is likely that other humans ask similar questions. I would expect that. But I would not expect that a snail will ponder about life at this level. But instead it probably has it's own "questions" (not verbal of course) that applies to it's intrinsic self.

I am more likely to understand a snail, than a snail is likely to understnad me.

Have you read any of Henry Stapp's papers or theories? I believe he also feels that in a sense everything is conscious. His papers are all here:
http://www-physics.lbl.gov/~stapp/stappfiles.html
No I haven't read any of it, but thanks for the link! i'll try to skim some of those papers.

The problem we face is a physics community which loathes the idea of subjectivity. Its understandable because scientists are trained to be objective about everything and i think it will be hard for many to traverse the new paradigm.
This is an interesting point and I think many people have a hard time understanding how subjectivity can make sense and not necessarily trash all logic. Unfortunately universal objectivity is an illusion IMO. Those who think they can do science and not deal with that are from my POV unlikely to have anything todo with the next generation of science. That's my opinion.

Carlo Rovelli has some excellent points to make about the relational nature of things. Relativity or subjectivity doesn't contradict emergent objectivity, as per negotiation processes. I don't agree with his entire reasoning but the early part of hte paper is just excellent IMO.

"Suppose a physical quantity q has value with respect to you, as well as with respect to me. Can we compare these values? Yes we can, by communicating among us. But communication is a physical interaction..."
-- Carol Rovelli, "Relational Quantum Mechanics", http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/9609002

Subjectivity is not near as stupid as some people sometimes seem to think. I think those who reject that lightly and think it means that anything goes at equal probability simply doesn't understand it's beauty. Subjectivity is really nothing but relativity.

/Fredrik
 
  • #32
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Fra,

"...I am more likely to understand a snail, than a snail is likely to understand me."

Yes, and perhaps one day we will understand much more of what goes on with snails. Maybe we will even figure out how to communicate with them on some biochemical level.

"This is an interesting point and I think many people have a hard time understanding how subjectivity can make sense and not necessarily trash all logic. Unfortunately universal objectivity is an illusion IMO. Those who think they can do science and not deal with that are from my POV unlikely to have anything todo with the next generation of science. That's my opinion."

Absolutely and this is a major problem in the mindset of modern physics. Its almost as if quantum mechanics never happened because even though phycists accept it they seem to ignore what it tells us about reality. I think this is why we seem to have hit a brick wall in regards to unification theories as described by Lee Smolin in TTWP. Its as if we've been travelling down a long winding road, found the side road for QM, but from that point on we got lost and missed the next turn. My view and i know you dont agree with me on this part, is that instead of accepting the observer paradox and researching how or why observers are essential for a "reality" to occur, we have ignored the problem and tried to deal with it in other ways.

Again i dont know what defines a valid observer exactly but i suspect its any kind of biology.

"Suppose a physical quantity q has value with respect to you, as well as with respect to me. Can we compare these values? Yes we can, by communicating among us. But communication is a physical interaction..."
-- Carol Rovelli, "Relational Quantum Mechanics", http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/9609002"[/B][/I] [Broken]

Yes very interesting. Thanks.

"Subjectivity is not near as stupid as some people sometimes seem to think. I think those who reject that lightly and think it means that anything goes at equal probability simply doesn't understand it's beauty. Subjectivity is really nothing but relativity."

I think subjectivity is intrinsically linked to our "consciousness". If you think about it we have to be capable of highly subjective thought to even "understand" quantum mechanics, and even then as you've pointed out; many realists or materialists have a real problem with it. Yes the observership angle to Relativity, and the subjective mindset one must enter to understand it correlates far closer to quantum mechanics than first impressions.

In fact life seems pretty subjective (quantum mechanical) even on macroscopic and human social levels. What are confrontations about other than two different versions of reality clashing? Its a subjective duel though the outcome will effect the global reality. Usually the victor gets his way and the world ends up reflecting that outcome. The loser either dies (becomes non-existent) or retreats - meaning he/she has less influence in moulding the future reality. One can apply this subjective model of interractions across all of life as we know it.
 
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